Marik Ishtar (マリク・イシュタール Mariku Ishutāru lit. "Malick Ishtar") is the leader and founder of the Rare Hunters, younger brother of Ishizu Ishtar, the adoptive younger brother of Odion, and heir to the Tomb Keepers. Marik was the main antagonist of the Battle City arc, until the defeat of Odion when Marik's split-personality, Yami Marik, took over his body and replaced him as the main antagonist. Marik was eventually able to regain control of his body and destroy his other self once and for all, redeeming himself in the process.
Marik's initial outfit consists of purple hooded robes with the Eye of Anubis on it, and a long purple cape with a gold chain at the front. He wears golden earrings, three bands of neckwear, an armband on each arm, and five bracelets on each arm starting from close to his elbows down to his wrists. He has dark skin, purple eyes and white-gold hair that occasionally appears as more light gray hair, especially in the Battle City tournament and at night.
When he arrived in Domino City, he wore a sleeveless light purple hoodie with two gold chains on the front, black pants, and black shoes. While in Battle City, he acquires a KaibaCorp Duel Disk on his left arm. In the manga, his pants are beige and he wears a black tank top underneath his hoodie, which would come to be the clothes his split personality would wear, minus the hoodie. The anime goofs with Marik's civilian outfit, by giving him black pants. When Yami Marik takes over, he is correctly shown wearing beige pants.
When he was switched with Dark Marik as his sacrifice during his battle against Yami Yugi, he wears the outfit that Dark Marik wore but he removes the purple cloak before he destroys his dark self in the shadow game.
Throughout Season 5, Marik eventually changed in a steel blue shirt with a black vest over it, two black and gold bracelets, light gray pants, and black shoes.
As a child, Marik was an innocent boy who desired to see the outside world, despite his clan's laws forbidding him from doing so, and was willing to sneak out to fulfill his desire. He cared for his sister Ishizu Ishtar very much and considered Odion to be his brother, despite not being blood related.
Marik bore a grudge towards the Pharaoh because he was forced by his own father to guard the family's carving with his life via a ritual of having carvings (in the anime's Japanese version and the original manga) or tattoos (in the anime's dub) onto his back which brought intense pain during and after the ritual and robbed him of his freedom.
With the excruciating pain and his resentment towards the Pharaoh, he spawned his second personality Yami Marik to deal with the pain. A year later when his father brutally tortured Odion for helping Marik and Ishizu to sneak outside, Marik was unconscious while Yami Marik killed his father and woke up with no recollection of his father's murder. Immediately afterwards, he sees a loyalist to the Pharaoh, Shadi, had come to warn him about the dangerous path he had taken. Marik thought that Shadi had murdered his father, leading to Marik's betrayal of the clan to get revenge against the Pharaoh (this aspect is removed from the dub).
While leading the Rare Hunters in his quest for revenge and freedom, Marik became cruel and uncaring, willing to use the Millennium Rod to brainwash people to do his bidding, forcing them to steal, cheat, and use cruelty on his behalf. The victims included Bandit Keith and Strings. He was not above using death to punish his subordinates for failure, such as Arkana and Lumis, nor did he care about sacrificing Rare Hunters to test fake "The Winged Dragon of Ra" cards which produced severe injuries and death. He even threatened his sister Ishizu with the Millennium Rod for getting in his way and ordered Odion to use the fake Ra card against his will. He still retained his love for his family, despite his mistreatment of them.
His given name "Marik" is derived from the Arabic name Malik (مالك Mālik), meaning "owner" or "holder". It was likely also influenced by the distinct Arabic title "Malik" (ملك Malik), which means "king". The use of "r" rather than "l" comes from the two consonants being represented by the same speech sound in Japanese, and the dub opting to localize it as an "r". He retains the name "Malik" in the Filipino and Indonesian versions.
Marik's family guarded the tomb of the Pharaoh for generations and two Millennium Items (the Millennium Rod and Millennium Necklace) were passed on to Marik and his sister Ishizu Ishtar. Marik was forbidden to leave the Pharaoh's tomb due to his father's fear that the freedom and marvels of the outside world would further divert Marik's attention from his heritage. Marik no longer wanted to become a Tombkeeper, so his adoptive brother Odion Ishtar asked if he could take Marik's place but Marik's father rejected the thought of Odion taking Marik's place. When Marik was forced to take the initiation ritual to become a full Tombkeeper, Marik spawned his second personality Yami Marik from the pain he endured. A year later, Marik and Ishizu took a forbidden trip to the surface but their father found out and attempted punish Odion, for not stopping Marik and Ishizu, by killing him. In the midst of his father's torturing Odion, Marik blanked out and his second personality Yami Marik emerged for the first time to resist his father's punishment and stole the Millennium Rod for himself. Ignoring his father's orders to put it down, Yami Marik used its powers to hold him against the wall. When Ishizu protested, she suffered the same strike. Yami Marik then proceeded to kill his father with the Rod's short blade (this part was cut out from the dub). After Yami Marik was sealed away in Marik's body by Odion, Marik believed that the Pharaoh had ordered the loyalist Shadi to kill his father, due to Odion saying Shadi had killed him, trying to be a big brother and hiding from Marik that it was actually his alter ego who had done so. This increased Marik's grudge and resentment to the Pharaoh, causing him to leave and start the Rare Hunters.
As a teenager, Marik was the leader of the Rare Hunters organization and he uses the Millennium Rod to obtain the three Egyptian God Cards so that he could take their powers, gain the title of "Pharaoh" and set his family free from the duty of the Tombkeepers (In the dub, he wants the Pharaoh's power for himself and use it to rule the world). He also has a second agenda, to get revenge on the Nameless Pharaoh's soul for killing his father as he mistakenly believed that it was the Pharaoh's fault. Although he and his Rare Hunters uncovered "The Winged Dragon of Ra" and "Slifer the Sky Dragon" from where Maximillion Pegasus had hidden them, they were unable to get "Obelisk the Tormentor", which was taken by Ishizu and given to Seto Kaiba.
During Battle City, Marik and his Rare Hunters hacked into Battle City's computer system and entered themselves in the tournament. After the Pharaoh defeated the weakest Rare Hunter, Marik used the Millennium Rod to take over the Rare Hunter's body to introduce himself to the Pharaoh. After the Pharaoh defeated Arkana, Marik used the Millennium Rod to take over Arkana's body to explain his goals to Yugi Muto. While arriving at Domino City, Marik used the Millennium Rod to have a Rare Hunter use Slifer against the Pharaoh to win the Millennium Puzzle from him. Marik has a huge advantage against the Pharaoh, with him using the Egyptian God card "Slifer the Sky Dragon". Using a five-card combo involving "Slifer", "Revival Jam", "Infinite Cards", "Jam Defender", and "Card of Safe Return", Strings puts Yami in a tight situation. Every time he attacks, Strings can redirect the attack to "Revival Jam", which regenerates itself after being destroyed and thanks to "Card of Safe Return", he draws three cards from his Deck whenever this happens and because of "Infinite Cards", he can hold as many cards as he wants. With Slifer's ATK and DEF proportional to the number of cards its controller holds, and with "Revival Jam" able to absorb and reform from any attack Yugi is able to make with the aid of "Jam Defender", Marik boasts the strategy is unbeatable.
Yami is just about to give up until Kaiba arrives and encourages him to fight on. The two manage to figure out the weakness of this combo and turn it against Marik. Yami attacks "Revival Jam" with "Buster Blader", and then uses "Brain Control" to take control of "Revival Jam" as it regenerates so it regenerates under his control, forcing "Slifer" to attack it with its second mouth. Then "Revival Jam" is destroyed and regenerates, forcing Strings to draw three more cards due to "Card of Safe Return". Then "Slifer" must attack "Revival Jam" again, since it reformed under Yami's control, destroying it and allowing it to regenerate again, and forcing Strings to continue drawing due to "Card of Safe Return". This continues in a never-ending loop until Strings' Deck is empty, much to Marik's anger, and inability to stop the loop and thus he loses the Duel through a Deck Out. Yami subsequently gets "Slifer the Sky Dragon" for his victory.
When he was getting ready to brainwash Joey Wheeler, Yami Bakura stood in his way, telling him to hand over the Rod. Instead, they made a deal where if Bakura obtains Slifer for him by defeating Yami Yugi, he would give him the Millennium Rod. Yami Bakura then stabbed himself in the arm and gave control back to his host, Bakura Ryou. Marik then showed the injured Bakura to Joey, Solomon, and Téa, gaining their trust and taking the guise of Namu. While Kaiba and the Pharaoh Dueled Lumis and Umbra, Marik used his Millennium Rod to brainwash Joey Wheeler and Téa Gardner. After Kaiba used Obelisk to defeat Umbra, Marik used the Millennium Rod to take over Lumis's body and brag about having Yugi's friends. Having a Rare Hunter hold Téa hostage, the deadly Duel between the Pharaoh and Joey went through. In the midst of the Duel, Yugi took over for the Pharaoh much to Marik's anger, as he wanted to see the Pharaoh's demise instead of his teenage vessel's. When Marik forced Joey with the Millennium Rod's full power, Joey was able break free with his willpower.
Marik, Bakura and Odion took places in the quarter-finals. Marik took the guise of Namu while Odion pretended to be "Marik" as nobody had actually met Marik in person and known his true name. Yami Bakura and Yami Yugi were the first ones to Duel in the quarterfinals; throughout the Duel, whenever it seemed Yami Bakura would lose, Marik would insist that he should take control of the Duel, much to Yami Bakura's annoyance. Once Yami Yugi had Summoned "Slifer the Sky Dragon", Marik had Odion appear and pretend to release Bakura Ryou from Yami Bakura's control (while in reality Yami Bakura simply did it himself). This was in an attempt to have Yami Yugi lose the Duel, as he wouldn't attack and thus fatally injure Bakura Ryou. However, deciding he needs his host, Yami Bakura regains control of Bakura Ryou and lets "Slifer" attack. Following this, Téa, partly under Marik's control, kept the Millennium Ring.
During Odion's Duel against Joey, Marik has Odion use a counterfeit Ra card in his quarter-final against Joey. When Joey suspected that he was not Dueling the real Marik, as Odion had been Dueling with honor while Marik was cruel, sadistic and, as far as Joey is concerned, a dirty cheater, Marik ordered Odion to use the counterfeit Ra to "show" he's Marik but Ra was angered by this and wrathfully struck both Duelists with lightning, ultimately rendering Odion and Joey unconscious. After Joey defeated Odion, the latter reveals to the Pharaoh and Joey that he is really Marik's servant while Marik began to suffer sudden headaches. After Odion was further rendered unconscious, Marik revealed himself to the Pharaoh, Joey, Kaiba, Téa, Tristan Taylor, Duke Devlin, Mokuba Kaiba, Serenity Wheeler and Mai Valentine. Suddenly, Marik cried out in pain as his darker personality gained control of his body.
While Ishizu Dueled Kaiba in the fourth quarter-final match, Marik tried to call out to Ishizu but his dark personality trapped Marik in a "prison" built out of his own fear and pity. Through Tea's mind, Marik listened to Ishizu's story of how he became evil and created his darker side, thus beginning to reform himself. After the quarter-finals, his reformed soul confronted his other self, claiming that he would make up for everything he had done and apologizing to his father, before a Duel with him. In this Duel, Marik teamed up with Yami Bakura to stop him, but failed when Yami Marik used Ra's other abilities, which were unknown to Marik. However, Marik (through Téa) warned Ishizu to hide Odion from Yami Marik in order to save his life.
Battle City Finals
In the final Duel between Yami Marik and the Pharaoh, their weaker selves were the victims of the Shadow Game being played. As the Duel went on, Yami Marik became the dominant host of Marik's body while the real Marik's soul slowly faded out of existence. This Shadow Game gave him a clear edge, for when the Pharaoh lost Life Points, Yugi's body would fade away, and when Yami Marik lost Life Points, the original Marik would fade away. As Marik realizes his mistakes of making people suffer, he speaks out through Téa, begging the Pharaoh for his forgiveness and asking him to defeat Yami Marik, even if it meant he would go to the Shadow Realm. While they Dueled, Odion woke up and made Marik realize he had to accept his responsibility for being a Tombkeeper. With this confidence, Marik overpowered his evil self and made him the victim of the Shadow Game, and then forfeited, destroying Yami Marik. Marik gave the Pharaoh the Millennium Rod and the Ra card.
Marik then revealed the Tombkeeper's initiation. The carving of the pharaoh's memory onto the back of a tomb guardian on his back. Fulfilling his duty as a Tombkeeper, Marik returned to Egypt to start a new life with his sister and Odion.
In the Pharaoh's Memories arc, Marik, Ishizu, and Odion lead Yugi and his friends to the Tablet of Memories, so Yami Yugi may enter the Memory World and regain his memory.
Marik, Ishizu, and Odion lead Yugi and his friends to the tomb of the Pharaoh in order for Yugi and Atem to have a final Duel in order to determine whether Atem will move on to the afterlife or remain in the present. Atem loses, allowing him to pass on to the afterlife. After he left, the Millennium Items sank into the ground and the tomb collapsed. Marik and the others managed to escape and Marik and his family end up staying in Egypt.
Marik's own Deck is only shown once in a Duel, before Yami Marik modifies it prior to his second Duel. Marik himself uses several Decks while controlling the bodies of others through his Millennium Rod.